ACEnglishteacher

All things EFL… A collection of practical ideas, resources for the classroom and thoughts on EFL today


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Flipped learning. And we’re off…

If you read my blog post back in February Why flipped learning has got me excited, you will know all about my new found enthusiasm for flipped learning.  After months of delving deeper, doing courses and webinars (including getting flipped learning certified) and connecting with people in the FL community, I’ve finally made a start 🙂

I decided to flip with one class to begin with as I neither have much free time nor much experience…

After getting the go-ahead from school in September, I started to plan out how I was going to introduce the idea of flipped learning to parents and students.

I had the idea of flipping from the off.  

There was a whole class parents’ evening mid September with tutors, to give general information for the school year ahead; expectations, assessment, a reminder of school rules, any new implementations etc…

I decided to put an informative document on the school webpage about flipped learning and send a note home to parents explaining my intention to introduce a new model of teaching and learning and directing them to the information about it. I asked them to read the document before they came to parents’ evening and bring with them any questions or doubts that they had about flipped learning, essentially flipping instruction! A stroke of genius I thought, however, the date was changed and I couldn’t make it.  As it turned out nobody seemed to have any doubts and they all thought it was a wonderful idea according to the tutor!  

flipped learning video

My idea however, had been to demonstrate flipping in action; the idea of accessing and engaging with the information at home and the importance of coming to class prepared (with your doubts and questions if you have any.)  I was kind of hoping that at least one parent wouldn’t have done their “prep” highlighting (in a light-hearted manner of course ;-)) the importance of coming to class prepared!  

As for the kids, I introduced the term “flipped classroom” in class without giving anything away.  I checked understanding of the word “flipped” and we did a think-pair-share to discuss what a flipped classroom might be…

Students then went home and watched the video to check if they were correct.  I embedded the video in a google form and uploaded it to our wiki.  After watching the video they completed the quiz questions in preparation for class.

Captura de pantalla (332)

When students came to class we checked understanding using the cooperative learning strategy “folio giratorio” (I don’t know what this activity is called in English.) In teams students passed a piece of paper round adding anything they remembered about flipped learning until I called time (if students can’t think of anything I generally allow them to pass and have more thinking time and they usually remember something by the time the piece of paper appears next time round.)  Teams shared their ideas in a whole class feedback session and any questions were answered.

Students then worked in their teams to come up with a kind of “protocol” (rules and guidelines) to ensure flipping our classroom would be successful.  We discussed and combined all the ideas to create our final list.

And so it all began, full of hope and optimism…

I’d love to say that it’s going swimmingly, however, I’ve already faced one of my biggest fears 😦  The next video and quiz I assigned for the preparation task at home was completed by 14 out of 25 students! Imagine my horror!  What happened to the “protocol”??? Protocol Schmotocol…. Needless to say there were issues addressed in class that day…

Now, I’d like to say there’s a happy ending to this story, however the story is just beginning…

Things are looking up though, I’ve just assigned the next video task and although the deadline isn’t for another 2 days, half the class have already done it (including some of my “no shows” from last time and it’s bank holiday!) so I’m feeling optimistic 😉

The only way is up…. (surely?)

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Flipped learning meets cooperative learning: #1 the spider’s web

September, the start of the new school year and time for reflection.  What worked last year? What didn’t? What can I do to improve learning in my classroom? What can my students do to become better learners?  What innovations in education might benefit my students? What’s working for other teachers and students?  These are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself over the last couple of weeks as I’ve been getting my teaching head back on (not that we ever really get it off, par for the course being a teacher!)

Back in June after reflecting upon the year and doing some self/student evaluations, I decided that the protagonists of my classroom this year (apart from my students of course) will be flipped learning and cooperative learning. Flipping in earnest will be new for my students this year, however cooperative learning is something we introduced last year. Students are finally getting used to this way of working and starting to understand (and reap) some of the benefits…

After doing a couple of courses at school, most of the teachers in my department have engaged with cooperative learning methods and students are now familiar with various CL strategies.  So, I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate some of these strategies to make the best use of the extra class time I’ll have when I start flipping learning with one of my classes this September.  

spider´s web

One of my favourite cooperative learning activities is the Tela de Araña (Spider’s web). I’ve also heard it called the “web of understanding.”

To use this strategy you’ll need a ball of wool (and a bit of patience if you’re working with younger learners!)

Students sit or stand in a circle and the ball of wool is passed to and fro to create “a spider’s web.”

Although our course leader demonstrated the spider’s web as a team-building, getting to know you activity, it can used in many more ways, from storytelling to checking understanding to recalling facts, summarising… It’s as versatile as you are creative…

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Creating dialogues using a cooperative learning strategy

Although dialogues in textbooks often include lots of good functional language to practise, the way to practise it can be uninspiring and predictable. cooperative learning strategyUsually students listen to a model dialogue (maybe after completing the gaps with target vocabulary), practise it and then create their own using prompts provided in the text book.

Although my students often found these activities quite dull,  I wanted them to learn the useful functional language, so I started to look for ways to make practising dialogues a bit more meaningful and engaging.  Round about the same time I got seduced by cooperative learning… Continue reading